This study presents a cost–benefit analysis of an intervention pairing proactive CCTV monitoring with directed police patrol in Newark, NJ. A recent randomized control trial found that the strategy generated significant crime reductions in treatment areas relative to control areas. The current study focuses on the financial implications of the experimental strategy through a cost–benefit analysis.
The study begins by measuring the costs and benefits associated with the experimental strategy, the findings of which can inform agencies with existing CCTV infrastructure. Follow-up analyses measure the costs and benefits of the intervention for agencies absent existing CCTV infrastructure, meaning a CCTV system would have to be funded in addition to the intervention outputs. Alongside overall benefits, this study presents the tangible cost savings afforded to the Criminal Justice system as well as to each of the separate criminal justice (CJ) system components: Policing, Courts, and Corrections.
We found the experimental strategy to be highly cost effective for agencies with existing CCTV infrastructure. However, when the cost of the CCTV system is considered, the strategy is largely cost prohibitive. While the cumulative societal and criminal justice findings suggest some evidence of a modest cost savings, the strategy is highly cost prohibitive for each of the individual CJ system components when CCTV system costs are included.
Results suggest that the experimental strategy is a worthwhile investment for agencies with existing CCTV infrastructure. Agencies absent CCTV may want to consider whether funds would be better allocated towards alternate strategies.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
For more information on the unit of analysis operationalization, see Piza et al. (2015: 50–51).
These specific crime types were selected for the evaluation in recognition of previous research finding CCTV effect to be greatest on automobile crime in car parks and limited in public places, specifically against such street-level activity as the aforementioned crimes (Caplan et al. 2011; Phillips 1999; Welsh and Farrington 2002, 2009).
http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm. All other cost estimates included in this study were converted via this same method.
McCollister et al. (2010) did not provide any cost estimates for social disorder, drug offenses, or weapon possession due to their status as “victimless crimes.” Therefore, for these crime categories, we used the cost estimates provided by La Vigne et al. (2011). While these estimates include intangible costs, we consider this discrepancy as inconsequential given the very low costs ($221.49 for social disorder, $39.70 for drug offenses, and $281.04 for weapon possession).
It should be noted that this likely underestimates the true costs of shootings and stabbings, and consequently the cost–benefit of the intervention, since these incidents may pose a high risk of fatality to the victim. Furthermore, while no crime incidents during the pre- or post-periods were classified as homicide, this is likely due to the use of calls-for-service data, as callers likely did not have knowledge of the victim’s status. Callers are likely to report the occurrence of a shooting or stabbing incident rather than the death of a victim, even in instances that the victim died.
All hourly wages include a fringe benefit of 35.5 %. Fringe rates for individual NPD officers range from 33 % to 38 % due to the variety of benefits packages offered to employees. Therefore, we used 35.5 % since it is the median value between these two extremes.
Officer ranks were determined from the log sheets.
We acknowledge that future implementations of the CCTV Directed Patrol strategy (in Newark or elsewhere) could involve personnel working during their regularly scheduled tours of duty, meaning that they would not be paid at the higher overtime rate. Using the regular hourly wages, rather than overtime wages, did not alter the findings of the study. For the interested party, cost calculations and findings incorporating the alternate regular wage calculations can be obtained from the lead author.
Fuel prices are not uniform throughout the year, but fluctuate according to seasonal variations in supply and demand. Therefore, fuel costs may have significantly differed if the RCT were conducted at a different time of the year, or extended for a longer period of time. Impact to the current study is minimal, as fuel costs ($1,025.51) represent only approximately 1 % of the existing system expenses and a fraction of a percent in the non-existing system expenses. Nonetheless, the reader should be mindful of the potential impact variable fuel costs can have in cost–benefit analysis particularly when fuel costs comprise a larger percentage of expenditures.
After each arrest, the officers transported all arrestees to the nearest police precinct for processing. While at the precinct, officers used the department’s Records Management System (RMS) to complete all necessary reports and a background check for the arrestees. RMS captures the time an officer logs on and submits final reports for an arrest. The sum of the minutes between these two time periods was considered the arrest process time.
This assumed an average driving speed of 20 miles per hour. The speed limit on local roads (which primarily comprised the target areas of the experiment) in Newark is 25 miles per hour. We used an estimated speed of 20 miles per hour to account for the periodic slowdowns (e.g. traffic) or stoppages (e.g. waiting at a red light) that the patrol cars encountered.
These salaries represent the top salary-step of NPD patrol officers and sergeants, respectively. This salary-step was used to reflect the structure of the NPD in 2011. In November 2010, budget constraints led the city to lay off 167 officers (Star Ledger 2010). This represented over 13 % of the agency, virtually all junior-level officers. The remaining officers were senior-level, with salaries at or near the top salary-step.
BLS did not provide national salaries for police supervisors. Therefore, we used differences in Newark officer wages to determine national estimates. For example, hourly wages for Sergeants were 13 % higher than Patrol Officers in Newark. Therefore, officer wages were increase by 13 % in the sensitivity analysis to account for Sergeant wages. The same method was used to estimate national wages for Lieutenants and Captains.
Since Caplan et al. (2011) found that the first phase of cameras produced a reduction in auto theft, we explored whether a system-wide auto theft reduction may provide the benefit increase necessary to produce a consistent cost benefit. Caplan et al. (2011) found that auto theft reduced by an average of 1.81 incidents (from 7.66 to 5.85) per camera during the first 13 months of the CCTV operation. This translates to an average of 0.03 (1.81/56 weeks) incidents reduced per camera per week. With 32 cameras in the target areas, we estimated that 1.03 (32 x 0.03) auto theft incidents may have reduced per week and that 11.37 (1.03 x 11) auto thefts may have been prevented during the 11-week experiment. We multiplied the estimated auto theft reduction by the costs of motor vehicle theft (converted to 2011 dollars) reported by La Vigne et al. (2011) and McCollister et al. (2010): $6,387.64 in Victim costs, $2,794.72 in Policing costs, $3,802.91 in Court costs, and $1,310.12 in Corrections costs, totaling $7,907.75 in CJ System costs and $14,295.39 in Overall costs. Multiplying these figures by the estimated auto theft reduction produces a cost benefit of $31,775.97 for Policing, $43,239.09 for Courts, $14,896.09 for Corrections, $89,911.12 for the CJ System and an Overall savings of $162,538.58. We compared the auto theft benefits to the Cost Savings Sums presented in Table 3 to determine whether the motor vehicle cost savings could have helped produce a cost benefit for the disaggregate CJ System components. This is a liberal estimate, since we assumed that the estimated auto theft reduction was identical for each of the temporal periods (Tours, Days, and 11 weeks). The estimated auto theft reduction increased the benefits by between 3.34 % (Tours) and 6.75 % (11 weeks) for Policing, between 6.75 % (11 weeks) and 12.11 % (Days) for Courts, and between 4.27 % (Tours), 9.53 % (11 weeks) for Corrections, between 6.35 % (Days) and 7.09 % (11 weeks) for CJ System, and between 7.63 % (tours) and 12.45 % (11 weeks) for the Overall calculations. In each case, these added benefits fall well below the increase needed to covert a cost deficit into a cost benefit.
Aos, S., Phipps, P., Barnoski, R., & Lieb, R. (2001). The comparative costs and benefits of Programs to Reduce Crime (Version 4.0). Olympia: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.
Babwin, D. (2007). Chicago video surveillance gets smarter. USA Today. Originally published September 27, 2007. Retrieved 5/25/15 at: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/2007-09-27-4171345706_x.htm.
Barnett, W., & Escobar, C. (1987). The economics of early educational intervention: A review. Review of Educational Research, 57(4), 387–414.
Bowers, K., Johnson, S., & Hirschield, A. (2004). Closing off opportunities for crime: An evaluation of alley-gating. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 10, 285–308.
Braga, A., & Bond, B. (2008). Policing crime and disorder hot spots: A randomized controlled trial. Criminology, 46(3), 577–607.
Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS]. (2015). Occupational employment statistics. Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014. 33–3051 Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers. United States Department of Labor: Washington, DC. Retrieved 2/15/16 at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333051.htm.
Burgdorf, J., & Kilmer, B. (2015). Police costs of the drug market intervention: Insights from two cities. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 9(2), 151–163.
Cameron, A., Kolodinski, E., May, H., and Williams, N. (2008). Measuring the effects of video surveillance on crime in Los Angeles. Report prepared for the California Research Bureau. USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development.
Caplan, J., Kennedy, L., & Petrossian, G. (2011). Police-monitored cameras in Newark, NJ: A quasi-experimental test of crime deterrence. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 7(3), 255–274.
U.S. Census Bureau (2010). State and county quick facts. Washington DC: United States Census Bureau. http://quickfacts.census.gov. Accessed 4 April 2015.
Chisholm, J. (2000). Benefit-cost analysis and crime prevention. Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.
Cohen, M. (1988). Pain, suffering, and jury awards: A study of the cost of crimes to victims. Law and Society Review, 22(3), 537–555.
Cohen, M. (1994). The costs and consequences of violent behavior in the United States. In A. Reiss & J. Roth (Eds.), Consequences and Control of Understanding and Preventing Violence (Vol. 4, pp. 67–166). Washington: National Research Council, National Academy Press.
Cohen, M., & Bowles, R. (2010). Estimating costs of crime. In A. Piquero & D. Weisburd (Eds.), Handbook of Quantitative Criminology (pp. 143–162). New York: Springer.
Cohen, M., & Piquero, A. (2009). New evidence on the monetary value of saving a high risk youth. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 25(1), 25–49.
Cohen, M., Rust, T., Steen, S., & Tidd, S. (2004). Willingness-to-pay for crime control programs? Criminology, 42(1), 89–109.
Community Oriented Policing Services, Office of. (2011). The impact of the economic downturn on American police agencies. Washington: U.S. Department of Justice.
Cordero, J. (2011). Reducing the cost of quality policing: Making community safety cost effective and sustainable. NJLM Educational Foundation, Friends of Local Government Services. The Cordero Group: Trenton, NJ.
Dhiri, S., & Brand, S. (1999). Analysis of costs and benefits: Guidance for evaluators. London: Home Office. Research, Development and Statistics Directorate.
Dominguez, P., & Raphael, S. (2015). The role of cost-of-crime literature in bridging the gap between social science research and policy making. Criminology and Public Policy, 14(4), 589–632.
Durlauf, S., & Nagin, S. (2011). Imprisonment and crime. Can both be reduced? Criminology and Public Policy, 10(1), 13–54.
Durose, P. and Langan, P. (2004). Felony sentences in state courts, 2002. Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin NCJ 1206916. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice.
Gill, M., Spriggs, A., Allen, J., Hemming, M., Jessiman, P., & Kara, D. (2005). Control room operation: Findings from control room observations. London: Home Office.
Goldstein, S. and Eiserer, T. (2012). Crime hot spots may get high-tech help. The Dallas Morning News. Originally published April 3, 2012.
Guerette, R. (2009). Analyzing crime displacement and diffusion. Problem-Oriented guides for police. Problem-solving tools series. No. 10. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Center for Problem-Oriented Policing.
Hilal, S., & Olsen, D. (2010). Police reserve officers: Essential in today’s economy and an opportunity to increase diversity in the law enforcement profession. Police Chief, 77(10), 92–94.
Horowitz, J., & Zedlewski, E. (2006). Applying cost-benefit analysis to policing innovations. Justice Research and Policy, 8(1), 52–65.
Howard, G. (2013). Discounting for personal and social payments. Patience for others, impatience for ourselves. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 66(3), 583–597.
Keval, H., & Sasse, M. (2010). “Not the usual suspects”: A study of factors reducing the effectiveness of CCTV. Security Journal, 23(2), 134–154.
King, J., Mulligan, D., and Raphael, S. (2008). CITRIS Report: The San Francisco community safety camera program. An evaluation of the effectiveness of San Francisco’s community safety cameras. Research in the Interest of Society. Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, University of California, Berkeley.
Kleiman, M., Caulkins, J., and Gehred, P. (2014). Measuring the costs of crime. Final reported submitted to the National Institute of Justice in partial fulfillment of award number 2011-IJ-CX-K059.
Kolb, J., & Scheraga, J. (1990). Discounting the benefits and costs of environmental regulations. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 9(3), 381–390.
Kuklinski, M., Fagan, A., Hawkins, J., Briney, J., & Catalano, R. (2015). Benefit-cost analysis of a randomized evaluation of communities that care: Monetizing intervention effects on the initiation of delinquency and substance use through grade 12. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 11(2), 165–192.
La Vigne, N., Lowry, S., Markman, J., and Dwyer, A. (2011). Evaluating the use of public surveillance cameras for crime control and prevention. US Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Urban Institute, Justice Policy Center: Washington, DC.
Lauria, D. (2007). Cost-benefit analysis of Tacoma’s assigned vehicle program. Police Quarterly, 10(2), 192–217.
Law Enforcement Information Technology Standards Council [LEITSC]. (2008). Standard functional specifications for law enforcement computer aided dispatch (CAD) systems. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the National Institute of Justice: Washington, DC.
Leman-Langlois, S. (2002). The myopic panopticon: The social consequences of policing through the lens. Policing and Society, 13(1), 43–58.
Lomell, H. (2004). Targeting the unwanted: Video surveillance and categorical exclusion in Oslo, Norway. Surveillance & Society, 2, 346–360.
McCarthy, J. (2014). Most Americans still see crime up over last year. Gallup. Retrieved 2/22/16 from http://www.gallup.com/poll/179546/americans-crime-last-year.aspx?g_source=Most%20Americans%20still%20see%20crime%20up%20over%20last%20year&g_medium=search&g_campaign=tiles.
McCollister, K., French, M., & Feng, H. (2010). The cost of crime to society: New crime-specific estimates for policy and program evaluation. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 108(1–2), 98–109.
McLean, S., Worden, R., & Kim, M. (2013). Here’s looking at you: An evaluation of public CCTV cameras and their effects on crime and disorder. Criminal Justice Review, 38(3), 303–334.
Miller, T., Cohen, M., and Wiserma, B. (1996). Victim costs and consequences: A new look. US Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice; Washington, DC.
Norris, C. (2003). From personal to digital: CCTV, the panopticon, and the technological mediation of suspicion and social control. In D. Lyon (Ed.), Surveillance as social sorting: Privacy, risk and digital discrimination. London and New York: Routledge.
Painter, K. and Farrington, D. (1999). Street lighting and crime: Diffusion of benefits in the Stroke-on-Trent project. In Painter, K. and Tilley, N. (eds.) Surveillance of Public Space: CCTV, Street Lighting and Crime Prevention: 77–122. Crime Prevention Studies, Volume 10. Criminal Justice Press: Monsey, NY.
Painter, K., & Farrington, D. (2001). The financial benefits of improved street lighting, based on crime reduction. Lighting Research and Technology, 33(1), 3–12.
Pease, K. (1999). A review of street lighting evaluations: Crime reduction effects. In Tilley, N. & Painter, K. (eds.), Surveillance of public space: CCTV, street lighting and crime prevention. Crime Prevention Studies, (Vol. 10). Monsey, NY: Criminal Justice Press.
Phillips, C. (1999). A review of CCTV evaluations: Crime reduction effects and attitudes towards its use. In Tilley, N. and Painter, K. (eds.) Surveillance of Public Space: CCTV, Street Lighting and Crime Prevention. Crime Prevention Studies Vol. 10. Criminal Justice Press: Monsey, NY.
Piza, E., Caplan, J., & Kennedy, L. (2014a). Analyzing the influence of micro-level factors on CCTV camera effect. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 30(2), 237–264.
Piza, E., Caplan, J., & Kennedy, L. (2014b). Is the punishment more certain? An Analysis of CCTV Detections and Enforcement. Justice Quarterly, 31(6), 1015–1043.
Piza, E., Caplan, J., & Kennedy, L. (2014c). CCTV as a tool for early police intervention: Preliminary lessons from nine case studies. Security Journal. doi:10.1057/sj.2014.17.
Piza, E., Caplan, J., Kennedy, L., & Gilchrist, A. (2015). The effects of merging proactive CCTV monitoring with directed police patrol: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 11(1), 43–69.
Ratcliffe, J. (2006). Video surveillance of public places. Problem-Oriented Guides for Police. Response Guide Series. Guide No. 4.U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Center for Problem-Oriented Policing: Washington, DC.
Ratcliffe, J. (2015). Towards an index for harm-focused policing. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 9(2), 164–182.
Ratcliffe, J. and Breen, C. (2008). Spatial evaluation of police tactics in context (SEPTIC) spreadsheet, version 3. Downloaded from www.jratcliffe.net.
Ratcliffe, J. and Groff, E. (2011). Preliminary findings from the Philadelphia CCTV study. Presentation at the American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting. Washington DC.
Ratcliffe, J., Taniguchi, T., & Taylor, R. (2009). The crime reduction effects of public CCTV cameras: A multi-method spatial approach. Justice Quarterly, 26(4), 746–770.
Reaves, B. (2015). Local police departments, 2013: Equipment and Technology. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics: Washington, DC.
Reid, A., & Andersen, M. (2014). An evaluation of CCTV in a car park using police and insurance data. Security Journal, 27, 57–79.
Rice, D. (1966). Estimating the cost of illness. Volume 1. US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare: Washington, D.C.
Roman, J. (2009). What is the price of crime? New estimates of the cost of criminal victimization. Doctoral dissertation, University of Maryland.
Roman, J. and Chalfin, A. (2006). Does it pay to invest in reentry programs for jail inmates? Washington DC: Urban Institute. www.urban.org/ReentryRoundtable/roman_chalfin.pdf.
Roman, J., Woodard, J., Harrell, A., and Riggs, S. (1998). Relative costs and benefits of the superior court drug intervention program. Washington DC: The Urban Institute. www.urban.org/publications/407753.html.
Roman, J., Sundquist, A., & Knight, C. (2008). Cost-benefit analysis of reclaiming futures. Washington: The Urban Institute.
Sherman, L. (1990). Police crackdowns: Initial and residual deterrence. In Tonry, M. and Morris, N. (eds.), Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, Vol. 12: 1–48. University of Chicago Press: Chicago.
Sherman, L. (2010). An introduction to experimental criminology. In A. Piquero & D. Weisburd (Eds.), Handbook of Quantitative Criminology: 399–436. New York: Springer.
Sherman, L., Buerger, M., and Gartin, P. (1989). Beyond dial-a-cop. A randomized test of repeat call policing (RECAP). Crime Control Institute: Washington, D.C.
Star Ledger. (2010, November 30). Newark finalizes 167 police layoffs after union refuses Booker’s plea to return to negotiating table. Retrieved 5/30/15 at: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/11/union_head_expects_167_newark.html.
Stephan, J. (2004). State prison expenditures, 2001 (NCJ Publication No. 202949). Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Telep, C., Mitchell, R., & Weisburd, D. (2014). How much time should the police spend at crime hot spots? Answers from a police agency directed randomized field trial in Sacramento, California. Justice Quarterly, 31(5), 905–933.
Tonry, M. (2015). The fog around cost-of-crime studies may finally be clearing. Prisoners and their kids suffer too. Criminology and Public Policy, 14(4), 653–671.
Tuttle, B. (2009). How Newark became Newark. Piscataway: Rutgers University Press.
Wayson, B., & Funke, G. (1989). What price justice? A handbook for the analysis of criminal justice costs. Washington: National Institute of Justice.
Weimer, D. (2008). Introduction: cost-benefit analysis and public policy. In D. Weimer (Ed.), Cost-benefit analysis and public policy. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Somerset: Wiley Publishing.
Welsh, B. and Farrington, D. (2002). Crime prevention effects of closed circuit television: A systematic review. London: Home Office (Research Study No. 25).
Welsh, B., & Farrington, D. (2004). Surveillance for crime prevention in public space: Results and policy choices in Britain and America. Criminology and Public Policy, 3(3), 497–526.
Welsh, B., & Farrington, D. (2009). Public area CCTV and crime prevention: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Justice Quarterly, 26(4), 716–745.
Welsh, B., van der Laan, P., & Hollis, M. (2013). Systematic reviews and cost-benefit analysis: Toward evidence-based crime policy. In B. Welsh, A. Braga, & G. Bruinsma (Eds.), Experimental criminology. Prospects for advancing science and public policy (pp. 253–276). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Wickramasekera, N., Wright, J., Elsey, H., Murray, J., & Tubeuf, S. (2015). Cost of crime: A systematic review. Journal of Criminal Justice, 43(3), 218–228.
Wiseman, J. (2011). Strategic cutback management: Law enforcement leadership for lean times. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.
Wyant, B., Taylor, R., Ratcliffe, J., & Wood, J. (2012). Deterrence, firearm arrests, and subsequent shootings: A micro-level spatio-temporal analysis. Justice Quarterly, 29(4), 524–545.
Zedlewski, E. (2009). Conducting cost benefit analyses in criminal justice evaluations: Do we dare? European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 15(4), 355–364.
This research was supported by the National Institute of Justice, Grant Number 2010-IJCX-0026.We are truly indebted to a number of individuals at the Newark Police Department whose support made this project possible, including former Director Garry McCarthy, former Director Samuel DeMaio, former Chief-of-Staff Gus Miniotis, Captain (retired) Phil Gonzalez, Lieutenant (retired) Joseph Alferi, Lieutenant Angelo Zamora, Sergeant Marvin Carpenter, and Sergeant Catherine Gasavage. Early versions of this paper were presented at the 2015 Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and American Society of Criminology annual meetings. We thank those in attendance for their insightful questions and feedback. We are especially grateful to the CCTV operators, patrol supervisors, and patrol officers who worked on the experiment for diligently carrying out their experimental tasks. We also thank Editor-in-Chief Lorraine Mazerolle, Associate Editor Cynthia Lum, and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.
About this article
Cite this article
Piza, E.L., Gilchrist, A.M., Caplan, J.M. et al. The financial implications of merging proactive CCTV monitoring and directed police patrol: a cost–benefit analysis. J Exp Criminol 12, 403–429 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11292-016-9267-x
- Cost–benefit analysis
- Situational crime prevention
- Directed patrol